We hate the Utes. We love it when they're miserable, and yet we can't help but keep tabs on them. You know I'm right, BYU fans. Admit it: You all run to find out the score of the Utah game just a touch slower than you run to find out the score to the BYU game.
Actually, I take that back. Not every BYU fan has this interest in their rivals. Some fans have reached what I like to call "Rivalry Nirvana," which is a state of mind in which Utah has lost all meaning and BYU is the only focus of the mind. These fans care as much about the Utah Utes as they do the Temple Owls, or the IUPUI Jaguars. BYU is the only thing on their minds.
Apathy, after all, is far worse than hate.
I envy these people, but I'm not there yet. The Utes are still very much on my mind. I hate them, and I want them to lose every game (even if by winning they would "help the conference"). I've said it before, but I love watching the Utes lose almost as much as I love watching the Cougs win.
That being said, Utah is enjoying its fair share of cranks through the hype machine heading into the 2008 season. We BYU fans know what that's like, being the BCS-busting favorites for the upcoming season, but the pirate Ute fans have no doubt in their minds that Utah will be the real deal.
Some Cougar fans even agree.
The Utes return almost as many weapons to their offense as BYU. Brian Johnson, Darrell Mack, Brent Casteel, Matt Asiata and a very talented offensive line return on offense, and their defense includes the Kruger brothers and probably the best defensive backfield in the conference.
There are a few defensive question marks, such as the D-line depth and the linebackers, but the Utes certainly aren't short on talent.
Most Utes and Cougars agree: When the two Utah powerhouses meet in November, it very well may be a clash of two undefeated teams.
Personally... I think the Utes are being a tad over-optimistic. The Utes have a lot of assets, true, but I'm not that impressed. The conversations about the upcoming season usually also fail to include the Utes' greatest liability: Their bumbling dummard of a coach.
Kyle Whittingham and his staff have been solely responsible for the Utes' schizophrenic tendencies over the past two seasons. Losing to Air Force, trouncing UCLA, getting shut out by UNLV and then beating up on Louisville are signals that the coaching is inconsistent, lazy and emotion-driven.
Plus, the Utes claim they have all their offensive weapons back, but these weapons are more akin to wrist-rockets and beebee guns than the offensive sidewinders and tomahawk missles we're working with. I mean, was anyone really that impressed with Brian Johnson when he came down to Provo last year? And how many yards did Darrell Mack have against us? 25? I admit, I'm genuinely impressed by Brent Casteel, but the rest of them are average at best.
So, after this lengthy pre-amble, I pose the question to you, my readers: How good will the Utes be this year? How many games will they lose? Before answering, consider this:
- The Utes open their season at Michigan in The Big House. Yes, Michigan is implementing a new system with a new coach, but this is still a big game against some pretty stellar athletes
- The Utes also play a good Oregon State team mid-season
- The Utes have two tough MWC road games at New Mexico and Wyoming, and you know the Cowboys are looking for some payback after last year's thumping
- The Utes have to play BYU
Personally, I see the Utes losing up to 4 maybe 5 games this year. Michigan and BYU are definite losses, and they will lose at least one against OSU, UNM and Wyoming. They do have the talent to roll through those games, but the inconsistent, sloppy Utes I have come to know and love will never live up to their potential.
How good are the Utes and how many games will they lose in 2008?
What say you? Go ahead readers: Write it out.